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Hijacking the setting
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Thread: Hijacking the setting

  1. #1
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    Hijacking the setting

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    I recently took a to visit my old stomping grounds and had time to sit in on a session with an old game buddy. I played with him for several years, mostly at Exalted, Shadowrun and his homebrew game. One thing he repeatedly said he disliked about Exalted was that everything was too defined in the setting. What I took this to mean is that there is a lot of supplemental material that he hadn't read and that his players had. I'd compare this to when he ran his homebrew system where all the setting existed in his own head because he hadn't written it down yet. I constantly found myself asking him what was setting appropriate for my character to do or say in some situations. Annoying to say the least.

    However, the majority of his players like playing Exalted over the other games. So my buddy excitedly told me that he'd created a "new area" to the canon map which was, in everything but name, an entirely new world. Think Columbus discovering an America the size of the entire previously known world and that's about what I'm talking about. In this "new area," the expected character types were still available, but their roles had all been shuffled around and the social constructs that had given the game its flavor had been gutted entirely. Players would make characters originating in this new area that would know nothing about the rest of the canon world of Exalted. His favorite type of Exalts ruled everything while the ones he didn't like were nowhere to be found in this setting.

    His solution to his problem seemed to be to remove the setting entirely and take the ruleset and a few bare threads of the old setting and dump them unceremoniously into a fantasy setting of his own creation. He seems to be much happier running "exalted" this way. Now, the world of Exalted is my favorite setting that I've encountered thus far, and because of it I've largely forgiven the somewhat inelegant system that's been applied to it. It wouldn't bother me so much to play in the game he has constructed, what really bothered me is that he still called insisted it was Exalted. My approach to a setting I'm unfamiliar with is to get as familiar with it as possible before I try to run it, not excise it from the game completely. Or, if I'm not happy with the game, I just don't run it at all. *shrug* I dunno, what do you guys think?
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
    The Dolling Blogs (1, 2, 3 & 4)

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    lots of people play Traveller, and don't use the default setting.

    Same deal.

    Some worlds are tied to their rules set, and people that jump out of that mold seem really off to those that love the specific genre.

    If you have a star trek game, using time travel, and it's like cadillacs and dinosaurs in prehistoric Earth, is it still star trek? Even though threy got uniforms, phasers, and tricorders?

    Some will say yes, some will say no.

    That seems to be your issue. He's not faithful to what you see as the genre conventions specific to exalted (Which I only know by name, never played.)

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    Interesting. I think that perhaps he still chooses to "call it" Exalted to avoid confusion around the fact that it uses the Exalted game system. Sure, it ceases to become identifiable in setting detail, but I think he's just trying to enforce his notion that it is still "played" the same even though the "how, where and why" have been home-brewed.

    On the issue of how one should wield a setting, I'm probably somewhere in the middle. I say this because there are some games (Vampire: The Masquerade, for example) that have a concept and basic themes that I like but a background and/or metaplot that I have little to no interest in what the established "canon" states as "fact". As such, on the rare occasion that I run Vampire, I run it from the corebook only. I don't have the time or inclination to read the library of established canon about events, NPCs, metaplots, etc. That kind of dilutes the enjoyment for me. All I need to know (thematically) is summed up in a few short snippets from the corebook: "A role playing game of personal horror", "the ancient vampires await the day that they will awaken and rule the world", and "we are the children of Kain". Beyond that, my Vampire campaigns will probably wander far from the path of those run by GMs following the "canon". I play/run Vampire differently than those others because it appeals to me on a different level.

    Thus, players who are far more intimately familar with the setting books might wince at this or that incongruity between what they know and what goes on in my game world...often they will bring it to my attention. At that point, I will make a personal decision as to whether the "canon" element works well for my game and should be adopted, or whether it is useless or plays counter to it. I don't care if Mickey Mouse is supposed to be the Prince of Chicago, if I have planned otherwise, Mickey Mouse goes out the window.

    Likewise, in established D&D settings, I would often create my own maps of locations and things that might not exist in the "canon" setting. That doesn't concern me so much, but then I mostly use a setting as a means of communicating a basic theme and general expectations to my players.

    I don't think that he's "unhappy" with the game (afterall, he probably invested a good deal of effort to branch off into his own Exalted setting) as much as he has a different idea about what makes it cool. I think every player does this to a certain extent, evidence of the fact that everyone has a slightly different idea of how a game is played. 3 different GMs can all run Star Wars and each campaign can end up feeling very different, even if they start with the same concept. This is because everyone enjoys a slightly different angle of play.

    Something to chew on...
    Last edited by Webhead; 01-16-2009 at 01:38 PM.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    It's a tough one really. The players want to play "Exalted"... I assume they like the whole package : crunchy and with dozens of source book like a jungle of information. He seems like he feels threatened by his players being more knowledgeable about the world and/or metaplot. And I can relate to that. Now as you pointed out the changes are really drastic, though he keeps the game system intact (as far as I understand). So he might have transformed Exalted into a very different game, not just "his version of Exalted where players will actually be surprised". It's difficult to predict what will happen. He might rejuvenate the game for himself and the rest of the group, and have a blast. Or he might disappoint his players by "corrupting" the setting and make them feel like it's a totally different game. What I can't discern in your post is how much creativity he's putting into this project. That's probably the key of his success : being able to keep the game play that the group enjoys, while providing an exciting fresh world.

    I personally have issues with Exalted rules (yeah I already told that many times) while I see the potential in the setting. So it's kind of the opposite problem your friend has. Fortunately there's a guy and his group who are hacking Exalted/Reign with a project called ORExalted. The ambition is to play the same atmosphere as Exalted with a simpler way to handle stuff like charms and combat. The company rules from Reign should fit nicely with the setting too.
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
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    I'm more than in favor of using the methods you suggest and throwing entire books out if it conflicts with what I'm trying to do as a GM. The players can operate on those basic taglines and they all understand something of the world they're in (in this instance a modern, but darker, earth). The players that were at the table that session all knew, more or less, how the world of Exalted works and what is generally expected in the large picture sense.

    To take your example of Vampire and run with it, what my friend did would be the equivalent of telling everyone that he's going to run a game of V:tM and then having them make characters that live on the world of XYZ (couldn't think of a name). The players don't know what is expected of a vampire on XYZ, any of the cultures or mores or any of the background information they would know if they were playing on earth in modern times. Would a vampire even have the same scary, sexy appeal as on earth? Sure, the GM would explain things to them that were needed for the story's sake, but this lends itself to a very fish out of water feeling that makes me uncomfortable. I, personally, would have problems keeping straight that my PC wasn't on earth and wouldn't necessarily do things as though he/she was. I don't feel that I would really be playing V:tM anymore, just using the system and maybe the rough concept of vampires. Calling such a game V:tM would be false or at least misleading, imo. If I'd showed up to this table expecting to play V:tM, I'd be disappointed and confused.
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
    The Dolling Blogs (1, 2, 3 & 4)

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    I suppose it ultimately comes down to whether or not you and the other players continue to enjoy playing the game after it has been changed so drastically. While there's nothing inherently wrong with changing things up (I am a big proponent of GM ownership of a campaign) it still has to be enjoyable by the group to be worthwhile.

    For me, I think that ends up playing into one of the appeals of GMing to me...the knowledge that I can run the game the way *I* would like to see it run. As you have discovered, even if somebody is running a game that you love, you can never really tell exactly how the experience will turn out...and sometimes even the best RPGs can be lame.

    But also, RPGs that you might otherwise have no interest in can be made awesome.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    oddly enough, i refuse to play exalted entirely... and so far, everything else published by white-wolf that uses the same basic cosmology and theology. but my reasons are completely unrelated to the mechanical system itself, and wholly centered in the story aspects of the setting.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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    An extreme example of "owning the game". It sounds to me like a reaction to being bombarded by canon one too many times. An extreme reaction, but not everyone has the the experience to say "It's my world, there are a few changes."

    One reason I prefer homemade worlds. The only person that has any artillery is me, or the GM of the given world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    oddly enough, i refuse to play exalted entirely... and so far, everything else published by white-wolf that uses the same basic cosmology and theology. but my reasons are completely unrelated to the mechanical system itself, and wholly centered in the story aspects of the setting.
    Now I'm curious ... that is, if you don't mind expanding? IIRC, you had said you were LDS. Does one have anything to do with the other? The reason I ask being because I have a few LDS buddies who play Exalted. One of them did threaten to black out all the pictures of nekkid bewbage in my books, tho ...

    I agree with you Webhead, in large part. I guess my main gripe here was that I was only going to be in town for a few days and my buddy said, "Come play Exalted with us." What I played was not Exalted, and thus I was somewhat put out. Did I have fun playing? Of course. If I hadn't been, I wouldn't have come back the second night (they game twice a week).
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
    The Dolling Blogs (1, 2, 3 & 4)

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoddessGood View Post
    ...I agree with you Webhead, in large part. I guess my main gripe here was that I was only going to be in town for a few days and my buddy said, "Come play Exalted with us." What I played was not Exalted, and thus I was somewhat put out. Did I have fun playing? Of course. If I hadn't been, I wouldn't have come back the second night (they game twice a week).
    I understand. The old "bait-and-switch". That's happened to me once or twice as well. You go in expecting one thing and come out having experienced something totally different.

    Still, as long as you had fun, I suppose that's the important thing. And at least it was a one-time deal so you don't have to worry about havnig to put up with it in the long-term.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoddessGood View Post
    Now I'm curious ... that is, if you don't mind expanding? IIRC, you had said you were LDS. Does one have anything to do with the other? The reason I ask being because I have a few LDS buddies who play Exalted. One of them did threaten to black out all the pictures of nekkid bewbage in my books, tho ...
    i don't mind at all. =D i would have to say, no, not directly... but indirectly, then yes. it is more a combined function of my particular personality, personal worldview, and my understanding and implementation of my own belief system as based upon the taught belief system, than my people's faith. i probably should mention that even my own people find me weird. just fyi.

    one great thing about my people's faith is that (when correctly taught and executed) the proper way to go about things is to teach the people correct principals, and then let the people govern themselves. in practice, this produces a surprising harmony of belief, while also allowing a fair amount of variance. another great thing is that we are literally commanded to study the sciences, our own religion, other religions, politics, and so forth... almost everything, in fact. rather broad minded for a philosophy.

    so, having covered all that; i have read up on various white wolf products and contemplated the philosophy embodied therein... and compared and contrasted it to other philosophies. end conclusion: there are trends and ideologies contained in the white wolf products that are not readily apparent, and that preclude my using their products.

    philosophical incompatibilities, and what not. as for what those are, i suggest that people find out for themselves. after all, lessons learned by ones own effort are believed and actually affect ones choices, whereas somebody else telling one, is not nearly so effective. pm me what is discovered, and we can discuss it. =D

    i must admit, however, that the drawings you referenced were definitely something that fell into the negative column for me, too. ^^ i do happen to believe that nudity should be between a husband and wife, and not for public display.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    ...snippity...
    Awwww...my inner philosopher just blushed.

    What interesting discussion for an RPG forum.

    Question: When you refer to "your people", what classification of people are you referencing? Color me ignorant.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    it's sort of like a contextual menu item... it flexibly refers to more than one thing. in this case, i was speaking of my brothers and sisters in faith, though it also would have accurately applied to my tribe... as well as to all of our related tribes. even those of the twelve who don't share the same faith anymore. technically. =D
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    it's sort of like a contextual menu item... it flexibly refers to more than one thing. in this case, i was speaking of my brothers and sisters in faith, though it also would have accurately applied to my tribe... as well as to all of our related tribes. even those of the twelve who don't share the same faith anymore. technically. =D
    I guess I'll have to take your word for it...
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    ah, sorry. that was kinda vague wasn't it. ^^ let's see, what's a good shorthand way of describing it.... let me think about it for a bit. *^^*
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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